Governor of Kano state, Umar Ganduje has opened up on his feud with his predecessor and current senator, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Ganduje, in a recent interview with Sun, revealed that he had a healthy relationship with the senator in the past adding that things went south after Kwankwaso started to undercut him. He said;
“We were very, very close. Even before 1999, we have been friends. I was Commissioner for Works and Transport for six years during the military, and my former governor is a politician right from the military when political parties were formed. I started politics right from 1978, and in 1979 during the NPN period, I even contested election and was even part of the executive members of the party in the state. So, politics is not something I am just starting now.
So, we contested together for governorship in 1999 and the result was controversial. Prince Tony Momoh was in Kano to supervise the primaries, the result was controversial; the elders reconciled us that he should be governor and I should be the deputy governor. I insisted that there should be re-election, but elders pleaded and I agreed to be the deputy governor. Tony Momoh is still alive, you can ask him.
And since I became the deputy governor I had to do it well. I had to be loyal, respectful and honest. So, I worked hard to add value to the government by supporting the governor not only by being loyal to him but working very hard to fill the gaps, promote the government and work round the clock to ensure when he is not around there is no difference. That is how we worked together. Even when he was a minister, I was with him. I was on my own when he invited me to come and be his adviser when he was Minister of Defence. I agreed because after all, we have been together, and he felt we could work together.
When we won the elections in 2011, he graciously invited me, it was not as a result of any contest between us, but out of his own volition. I have to thank him for that because he could have invited someone else.
So, we worked together peacefully. When I was nominated and after I won the elections in 2015, before handing over, I started seeing some elements of undercuts from his body language.
He didn’t attend my swearing-in, he just handed over and left for Abuja because he claimed he had something to do. I said okay and went for the swearing-in. A night before he left, I went to him and I said during my campaign, I said that my administration will be a government of continuity. I told him that I want to retain the Secretary to the State Government. The SSG did not know, I was the one that told him. I told him that I want to retain the Accountant General. The DG Media is his friend, I told him I want to retain him, and I later made him a Permanent Secretary. The Press Secretary, I told him I want to retain him, so he phoned and told him. And then the four administrative staff in the office, I asked him ‘will you like to take some’, he said he was taking only one, the remaining three are still in my office. So, that was a symbol of continuity.
Then it came to the appointment of commissioners and, of course, from his body language I had started seeing some elements of disagreements. So, I didn’t get his opinion on the appointment of the commissioners because I thought that was not even necessary because the commissioners are not as strong in government as SSG and the Accountant General. So, I thought it was something I could do. Even at that, my Commissioner for Agriculture now was also his Commissioner for Agriculture, we are still together; the Commissioner for Local Government is a younger brother to his wife, he was chairman of local government during his time; the Commissioner for Water Resources was an adviser in his government; the Commissioner for Finance was also Commissioner for Finance in his government.
Like I said, I started seeing some elements of undercuts from his body language, and then he started attacking my administration. First, even before handing-over, he said he has paid all the contractors in Kano, but the contractors went to radio stations and said he was telling lies. You could see that he was trying to heat up the system even before handing-over.
Some months before he left, he declared free education at all levels knowing well that it was clearly impossible. When he said free education, the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University said okay, the highest number of students in the university, ‘this is the figure please give us the money because since you declared free education what it means is that they will not pay single kobo.’ He said the VC should divide the figure into four that he will pay and the VC said no, ‘our budget is not based on that.’ Students in other universities were paying, and yet he said it was free education.
And also, few weeks before he left, he was sending students in thousands abroad; some studying chemistry, geography, biology, engineering, medicine. And you know how much it is costing us so far because of the fall of the naira, he paid N4 billion on foreign scholarships. When we calculated, each foreign student will get N68,000 per month. It was a huge expenses considering our challenges occasioned by the drop in the prices of oil at the international market. In fact, some state governments returned their students from foreign universities because they couldn’t cope, but I didn’t return anybody. I’m still paying with tears.
Again, he took pension money and built houses that up till now we are finding it very difficult to dispose off. We put N4.1 billion from the pension fund and the liability we have on the houses is over N3 billion. So, even if we sell the houses, we have to pay contractors. So, what I am trying to say is that even before handing-over, he was setting up some traps so that the government will be a failure. He even went to my senatorial district five days before my taking over and said he was establishing a Technical College of Education in one of the local governments. How can you establish a school like that without approval from the federal government, without any legislation from the State House of Assembly, without any infrastructure, no plans for teachers, no plans for equipment? He did this so that when I come, I will find problem on ground.
After he left, I told the people that it was a story-telling because there is nothing on ground to establish a college of education. What I discovered later is that we have a Federal College of Education (Technical). The Provost told me that Kwankwaso told him he wanted to establish a college of education and he told him not to because we are not even filling our quota in the federal college.
And then he wrote me a letter that I should not receive bailout. How could I have paid salary if I don’t? When the federal government thought we needed bailout, he wrote me a letter that I shouldn’t collect bailout knowing that he left a liability of over N300 billion. The Transition Committee was the one that gave that figure and then he started quarreling. He said why should the Transition Committee say he left a liability of over N300 billion. I told him this was released even before the handing over.
I held a press conference and I said leaving a liability is not a crime. This government is a government of continuity and I will continue to forge ahead. But he was still pained that the Transition Committee said he left a liability of over N300 billion, but that was the fact. So, you find all these kinds of things, which I didn’t want to bring to the open until he decided to attack me.
He even wrote in the letter that receiving loan from the federal government was not part of the Kwankwasiya policy. So I started to wonder, what is Kwankwasiya policy? Because I was the first person to put the Kwankwasiya structure on ground. He started using some members of Kano State House of Assembly against me, but God so kind, out of the 40 members, 35 of them are with us. Even at the federal level, most of the lawmakers are with us.
The crux of the matter is that he wants to be remote-controlling me. How can I be remote-controlled by somebody outside the government? I was a civil servant at the state level after graduation and I got to level 17 at the federal level. I have been in politics for years. I was secretary to our party in my local government, assistant secretary of our party at the state level, commissioner for six years and deputy governor for eight years. For goodness sake, if you are talking about government, I should know what it is about.
He would have been the luckiest former governor, I can assure you that because we’ve been nice to him. But it’s obvious he doesn’t want us to succeed. That is why he is not contributing anything in the Senate because he is concentrating on Kano. Sometimes, I wonder if in his dreams he still thinks he is the governor of Kano state. Instead of him to concentrate in the Senate by making laws, and being versatile on national and international issues and see how he can assist our democracy, he is dreaming of becoming the President of this country while he is quiet in the Senate. How can he rule this country? What ideas does he have?”
Ganduje also said that he was open to reconciliation with the senator. Speaking on Kwankwaso’s chances of becoming president in 2019, he said;
“On 2019 elections, that is left to God. But personally, I wouldn’t mind for him to join another party, back a candidate that will contest against me. And if the constitution allows, I would even invite him to come and contest against me on a different platform to test his popularity. Politics is like that.”